Did you know that John Walker sold the first friction match in 1827? Chemical matches were made of a glass capsule that contained one chemical and was coated with another chemical. The capsule was wrapped in paper. To ignite the ‘match’ you would crush the glass with pliers. John Walker discovered the friction match by chance. He was preparing a lighting-mixture. When he accidentally scraped a wood stick dipped in the mixture against some bricks it started on fire. When John Walker started to sell the matches, a safer alternative to chemical matches, he included a rough piece of sandpaper to ignite the matches with.
We hope the day ignites your imagination at school today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.
The word “match” comes from the French word “mèche”, which refers to the wick of a candle.
One of the first recorded wooden matches was from 1366 in China. The matches were made of small pinewood sticks that were saturated with sulfur.
Before matches, there were several ways to start a fire: a lens to focus sunlight, flint and steel to make sparks, or using a thin flammable object such as a piece of straw or rolled paper called a ‘spill’ that you could start on fire in a fireplace and then use to light a lamp or candle.
In 1805, Jean Chancel created a match. The head of the match was covered in potassium chlorate, sulfur, sugar, and rubber. When the match was dipped in sulfuric acid it would ignite.
John Walker named his matches ‘Congreves’ in honor of Sir William Congreve, the pioneer or rockets. Walker chose not to apply for a patent on his matches, so they would be available for anyone to make.
Early matches were made using phosphorus. However, white phosphorus is toxic. The factory workers who made the matches suffered from ‘phossy jaw’ and one pack of matches contained enough phosphorus to kill an adult. Inventors and chemists worked to find another alternative and developed ‘safety matches’ that used red phosphorus instead of white phosphorus.